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I7 3770 vs 3770k - Virtual Machines

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July 2, 2012 9:15:59 PM

Hi all,

So I'm working on a fairly high end build for web development, data analysis and a little gaming. I was all set on the i7 3770k since it costs a fraction more and makes an OC of 4.2-4.5GHz nice and simple. Unfortunately, just before pulling the trigger I read a pretty informed review of the 3770k on Amazon that stated the following:

"Note that if you do not plan to overclock and/or intend to run virtual machines, the plain 3770 is the cheaper and better choice as it has Intel SIPP, vPro, VT-d and TXT enabled (the K has these disabled)."

I don't currently run VMs for any of my work, but I can envisage the need to at some stage, for compatibility testing. Then again, the overclocking potential of the 3770k is definitely appealing.

So... can anyone enlighten me on the limitations of the 3770k? Does the lack of the technologies stated above make the 3770k a non-starter for VMs? Or does it just mean it'll be marginally less efficient for VM use than the vanilla 3770?

I'm still leaning towards the 3770k, but I don't want to be ruling out running virtual machines by choosing it.

Advice?
July 3, 2012 1:26:52 PM

phyco126 said:
You can still run VMs with the 3770K, so don't worry about it. Here is some reading about what those features do, so you can decide if its worth it or not.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trusted_Execution_Technolo... (TXT)

http://www.intel.com/technology/itj/2006/v10i3/2-io/7-c... (VT-d)

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and... (vPro)

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/computer-upgrade... (Intel SIPP)



Cheers dude. Maybe I should have just Googled each of those terms myself ;) 

When I read a sentence like:

"Specifically, VT-d supports the remapping of I/O DMA transfers and device-generated interrupts."

I realise that to understand exactly what it's saying and how that might apply to me will probably eat up my whole day in research, so I think I'm going to take your word (and a few other people's word) for it that the 3770k will be more than capable of doing anything I'll realistically need to do with VMs.

3770k it is I think :D 
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a c 188 à CPUs
July 3, 2012 4:54:00 PM

The easiest way to understand VT-d and VMs is think of a line of people waiting to get into the movie. The movie is your NIC port and the people are the system and the VMs that you have running. What VT-d does it that it give VIP treatment, moving them to the head of the line to which ever of the VM's have been assigned that hardware.

Now while the VT-x on the Intel® Core™ i7-3770K will allow you to set up and run the VMs it won't allow to assign hardware to the VM.
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July 3, 2012 6:01:58 PM

IntelEnthusiast said:
The easiest way to understand VT-d and VMs is think of a line of people waiting to get into the movie. The movie is your NIC port and the people are the system and the VMs that you have running. What VT-d does it that it give VIP treatment, moving them to the head of the line to which ever of the VM's have been assigned that hardware.

Now while the VT-x on the Intel® Core™ i7-3770K will allow you to set up and run the VMs it won't allow to assign hardware to the VM.



Thanks mate, that's helpful. So it sounds like if I was using VMs a lot then the 3770 with VT-d might be a better solution because it would allow me to hardware accelerate the VMs and therefore run them faster and more efficiently. The 3770k, without VT-d, will still allow me to run the same virtual machines, but they'll run slower and less efficiently because they can't benefit from hardware acceleration.

Right?

I guess my question in it's simplest form would be:

Do I lose any *functionality* by not being able to assign hardware to VMs, or do I just lose efficiency/performance? And if I do lose functionality, what would that be (in simple terms if possible)?

Thanks again.
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a c 188 à CPUs
July 3, 2012 8:01:51 PM

Back in the early 90s Creative Labs wanted their sounds cards to always have DMA 9 (I forget which one). The issue that came up is that at times other components would want that same DMA which would cause a conflict and a crash. While this won't cause that same type of crash today the issue is with VT-d you make sure that your VM goes to the first of the line on getting access to that hardware (i.e. NIC ports, Graphics etc.). This doesn't mean that you have to have VT-d it just means that there are some VMs that may need this type of support to be as effective as possible.

So most of the time it is just a matter of performance but check with the virtulization software that you are using to see if demands assigned hardware for the VMs.
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July 3, 2012 10:15:28 PM

IntelEnthusiast said:
Back in the early 90s Creative Labs wanted their sounds cards to always have DMA 9 (I forget which one). The issue that came up is that at times other components would want that same DMA which would cause a conflict and a crash. While this won't cause that same type of crash today the issue is with VT-d you make sure that your VM goes to the first of the line on getting access to that hardware (i.e. NIC ports, Graphics etc.). This doesn't mean that you have to have VT-d it just means that there are some VMs that may need this type of support to be as effective as possible.

So most of the time it is just a matter of performance but check with the virtulization software that you are using to see if demands assigned hardware for the VMs.



Thanks Christian, that's a big help - hopefully to others too, because I wasn't able to find this sort of information easily elsewhere (hence the post). I'll do a little research into what sort of virtualisation software I might end up using and check some requirements, but I still think this is all pointing me to the 3770k, since running VMs will only be a small part of what I'll want to do with the machine.

Thanks again for the help all - I'm feeling a lot more confident on my choices now.
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July 12, 2012 10:10:58 AM

Best answer selected by dogsinbrine.
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December 13, 2012 1:44:25 PM

VT-D can be important if you want to give the virtual machines direct access to your hardware components (like PCI Express cards).

Example: Directly attach graphics card to vm instead of host machine
Directly attach network adapter to vm instead of passing via the host system
Directly attach an ISDN card to a virtual machine to use with asterisk

Most likely you will not need it, but it could be required in some situations. I virtualize everything and certainly wouldn't want to miss that feature.
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